‘Taste of Al-Ahsa’ is a prize-winning Saudi visual feast

‘Taste of Al-Ahsa’ is a prize-winning Saudi visual feast
The Al-Ahsa film aims to capture the essence, spirit and beauty of a region known for its rich cultural heritage dating back centuries. (Supplied)
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Updated 02 October 2021

‘Taste of Al-Ahsa’ is a prize-winning Saudi visual feast

‘Taste of Al-Ahsa’ is a prize-winning Saudi visual feast
  • The short promotional film was honored with an award at a prestigious international event

JEDDAH: A short film showcasing some of the culinary delights Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ahsa region is famous for has been honored with an award at a prestigious international event.
“Taste of Al-Ahsa” was named Best Potential World Region of Gastronomy Film at the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism’s Food Film Menu 2021 event.
The film packs a lot of Al-Ahsa’s food-related attractions and traditions into its running time of just over a minute, including authentic traditional Hassawi dishes and freshly picked dates from the region’s oases. It also features traditional music and dance and local arts and crafts, such as bisht (a traditional Arab men’s cloak) making.

The film is one of five in a series titled “The Senses of Saudi Arabia,” each of which explores a location in the Kingdom as experienced through one of the five senses. The others focus on Jeddah, Najd, Tabouk and Jazan.
The Al-Ahsa film aims to capture the essence, spirit and beauty of a region known for its rich cultural heritage dating back centuries, including culinary traditions influenced by years of migration that created unique local cuisines.
Traditional farming techniques are also featured in the film, which aims to showcase the region as a destination for tourists interested in culinary traditions and food experiences.
The Saudi Tourism Association came up with the idea for the series of promotional films in collaboration with Merak, a media and production company with a team of creative Saudi minds led by Ali Al-Rashidi.
Talking about the idea behind the Al-Ahsa film, he told Arab News: “It is unique and it highlights many important cultural aspects and Saudi historical legacies, including the true taste of Al-Ahsa food and flavors, in a minute.”

The team that made the film said that with only 12 days to shoot it, they faced a difficult task because there were so many options for things to include and they wanted to share as many of them as possible with the world.
“Al-Ahsa has a vibrant, versatile culture for tourists to live the full experience, from its signature traditional flavors to its prominent palm trees and heavenly agricultural nature,” said creative director Ahmad Eid.
The soundtrack to the film includes Hassawi farmers singing a celebratory folk song after a successful harvest season. Eid said that the music is an inherited part of the Hassawi heritage of “Daq Al-Hab,” which translates to English as “bean grinding.”
Mohammed Al-Juraibi, the film’s music producer, told Arab News: “After harvesting season, Hassawi farmers start to crush and grind the crop of beans using a wooden, branch-like stick to turn them into flour and other products. During that process the farmers traditionally sing a rhyming rhythm of folkloric chants until they finish.”
Majeed Hattaf, the producer of the “Senses of Saudi Arabia” series, said it had been challenging to assemble a team able to combine the Al-Ahsa film’s visuals with creative music production to create a distinctive audio identity for the region.
“The most important aspect of this film is the music, in my view,” he added. “The sound of each scene creates an artistic scene that stirs emotions.”
He added that production of the five films took about three months to complete but this timescale does not fully reflect the huge amount of effort went into the process.
For example, finding locations with the specific flowers and crops he wanted to feature in the Al-Ahsa film, such as okra, onions and sunflowers, was challenging because they grow at different times of the year. But they were essential for getting across the character of the region.
“Food is not only considered as nutrition for the people of Al-Ahsa but rather it makes up their festive gastronomy culture,” said Eid.




Majeed Hattaf

The film highlights some of the traditional dishes unique to Al-Ahsa, including a rice dish called kabsa hasawiya, and a thin, crispy sweetened bread served as a cracker with tea.
“We highlighted khobz alhamar, or red bread, which is one of the most famous Hassawi foods still found and baked in traditional bakeries,” said Eid. “The bread is red because date paste is added. Also … sunflower seeds are featured as they represent a popular healthy Hasawi snack.”
In addition to traditional Hassawi dishes and delicacies, the film also highlights practitioners of traditional Al-Ahsa crafts, including tailors who make bishts and silversmiths who create jewelry.
“We truly felt the warm feeling that this film conveys to viewers while we were filming, as Hassawis are known for the warm welcome they offer their guests,” Eid said.
“The kindness of the people was a valuable asset to this film. It is not the producers who made it great and good enough to win a prize, but rather the people of that region who showed who they are by being themselves in front of the cameras.”


Saudi king receives letter from Oman’s sultan on bilateral relations

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan received the letter during a meeting with his Omani counterpart, Sayyed Badr Al-Busaidi, in Riyadh, on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. (SPA)
Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan received the letter during a meeting with his Omani counterpart, Sayyed Badr Al-Busaidi, in Riyadh, on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. (SPA)
Updated 59 min 9 sec ago

Saudi king receives letter from Oman’s sultan on bilateral relations

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan received the letter during a meeting with his Omani counterpart, Sayyed Badr Al-Busaidi, in Riyadh, on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. (SPA)
  • The message dealt with the strong and solid bilateral relations, and ways to enhance them in various fields

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman received a written message from Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, regarding the strong and solid relations between the two countries and peoples, and ways to support and enhance them in various fields and at all levels.
The message was received by Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan during a meeting with his Omani counterpart, Sayyed Badr Al-Busaidi, where he welcomed the Omani minister and his delegation accompanying to their second country, Saudi Arabia.
During the meeting, they discussed bilateral relations between the two countries and ways of enhancing them in various fields, in addition to exchanging views on regional and international issues of common interest.


3 Italians killed in car crash in Saudi Arabia

3 Italians killed in car crash in Saudi Arabia
Updated 18 October 2021

3 Italians killed in car crash in Saudi Arabia

3 Italians killed in car crash in Saudi Arabia
  • The dancers were in Saudi Arabia to inaugurate a theater
  • Their vehicles crashed while on an excursion in the desert

ROME: Three Italian dancers and another person died in a car crash in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, Italy’s Foreign Ministry confirmed on Monday.

The dancers, all in their early 30s, were identified as Antonio Caggianelli, Giampiero Giarri and Nicolas Esposto. The fourth victim has not been named.

The dancers were in the Kingdom with a 10-strong all-Italian troupe to inaugurate a theater. Sunday was their day off and they had decided to go on an excursion in the desert.

For reasons as yet unknown, their vehicles crashed into a gully and overturned. Another three Italians were involved in the accident. One is in serious condition while the other two were unhurt.

Caggianelli had a leading role in the latest edition of the Notte della Taranta, one of the most prestigious summer dancing events in southern Italy.


Saudi air force joins UAE combat maneuvers

Saudi air force joins UAE combat maneuvers
Updated 18 October 2021

Saudi air force joins UAE combat maneuvers

Saudi air force joins UAE combat maneuvers
  • The exercise also included air forces from other friendly countries

ABU DHABI: The Saudi Royal Air Force took part in the Missile Air War Center 2021 maneuvers on Sunday in Al-Dhafra Airbase in the UAE.

The exercise also included air forces from other friendly countries.

The exercise commander, Col. Pilot Ayedh Bin Saeed Al-Qahtani, said that the exercises kicked off with the highest levels of professionalism and safety measures.

The Saudi armed forces took advantage of previous experiences in similar exercises, he said, adding that the exercise included several stages and was preceded by the formation of working groups and preparatory meetings.

Al-Qahtani added that the drill aimed to raise the combat readiness level of the Saudi Royal Air Force, as well as enhance the operational ties between the SRAF and the participating counterparts.

He added that the drill included activities ranging from targeting enemy air defenses to tactical air operations, striking hostile targets, detecting and destroying enemy radar sites, intercepting enemy aircraft, and conducting strategic attack operations and air support operations for ground forces.

He noted that the participation of air forces from multiple countries in the drill helped develop scenarios that mimic what can happen on the ground, as it enables the participants to communicate and enhance their practical experiences.


Saudi Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai welcomes 23,000 visitors in one day

Saudi Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai welcomes 23,000 visitors in one day
Updated 18 October 2021

Saudi Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai welcomes 23,000 visitors in one day

Saudi Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai welcomes 23,000 visitors in one day
  • Dr. Khaled bin Hussein Al-Biyari, assistant minister of defense for executive affairs, visited the Saudi and UAE pavilions

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai has received 23,000 visitors in one day, bringing the total number of visits to over 200,000, state news agency SPA reported.

The Commissioner-General of the Saudi Pavilion, Eng. Hussein Hanbaza, said the pavilion has attracted the attention of visitors through its sections and activities that reflect the humanitarian wealth and civil and development components of the Kingdom.

The pavilion has provided visitors with diversified content based on four main pillars: nature, heritage, bio-community, and the economic opportunities that the country offers to the world.

Popular folklore shows also took place at the second biggest pavilion on the expo site.

Meanwhile, Dr. Khaled bin Hussein Al-Biyari, assistant minister of defense for executive affairs, visited the Saudi and UAE pavilions. 

He was received by the Saudi Ambassador to the UAE Turki bin Abdullah Al-Dakhil and the Saudi pavilion chief Eng. Hanbaza.


Saudi Food and Drug Authority wins UN award

Saudi Food and Drug Authority wins UN award
Updated 18 October 2021

Saudi Food and Drug Authority wins UN award

Saudi Food and Drug Authority wins UN award
  • The 2021 award recognized the SFDA’s commitment to realizing its vision of becoming “a leading international science-based regulator to protect and promote public health”

JEDDAH: The Saudi Food and Drug Authority has won a UN award for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases.

It was honored for its efforts to prevent and control these diseases through nutrition-related legislation.

In line with the Vision 2030 Quality of Life Program, the authority set out in 2018 to improve public health and enable consumers to find a variety of healthier food options.

The UN Inter-Agency Task Force Award on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases aims to encourage cooperation between UN bodies and global governments to support efforts in combating noncommunicable diseases associated with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The 2021 award recognized the SFDA’s commitment to realizing its vision of becoming “a leading international science-based regulator to protect and promote public health.” 

The authority seeks to protect and ensure community safety through regulations and adequate controls of food, drugs, medical devices, cosmetics, and pesticides.

Since its launch, the SFDA has worked on several pieces of legislation related to food products and food establishments.

The legislation was introduced to improve the nutritional value of food products in local markets by limiting the consumption of sugar, salt, and fat, and obligating food establishments with menu labeling for calories and allergens.

It also launched several initiatives and awareness campaigns on proper nutrition and the healthy choices available in food and beverages.

The initiatives include the Food Labeling Nutrition Calculator and the revival of the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables in food establishments and the workplace.